Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Walnut Ricotta Pesto

I love me some Lidia Bastianich! I have had a signed copy of her book Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy for months now. I flip through it every once in awhile, getting all lustful for Italy. It's neat how the book is set up. Each chapter talks about a different region of Italy, then has a bunch of traditional recipes from that region! Educational, romantic and tasty! One that caught my attention as I looked for a good weeknight recipe was Tagliatelle with Walnut Pesto. Seeing as how I love making pestos almost as much as I love tacos (see end of post for links to previous pesto recipes), this was a winner.

I did not make the tagliatelle that went along with it, as I have yet to get my own pasta machine. I bought some good fettuccine instead. I also used less walnuts and more ricotta than the recipe called for, simply because I was going by package size (heh)... Ricotta comes in 2 cup tubs, and chopped walnuts come in 1 3/4 cup bags... so 1 1/2 cups of ricotta and 2 cups of walnuts was inconvenient. Since this is cooking, not baking, adjustments like this are not a problem. I also added more garlic, as is my M.O. Oh, and Lidia finishes the dish with butter. I forgot, and it was really rich and flavorful anyway. And so quick! And I have a lovely amount of the pesto itself left to use as a dip or spread... it's actually pretty similar to the roasted garlic ricotta spread from my Sauce magazine article.

Fettuccine With Walnut Pesto
adapted from Lidia Bastianich

-1 3/4 cup walnut pieces, toasted
-3 or 4 cloves of garlic, peeled
-small handful of Italian parsley leaves
-16 oz. tub of whole milk ricotta, drained
-6 tablespoons olive oil
-6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
-salt and pepper
-9 oz. pkg. fresh fettuccine

-Bring a big pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Meanwhile, pulse the walnuts, garlic and parsley in a food processor until well-chopped, but not too fine/powdery. Stir the nut mixture together with the ricotta, olive oil, cheese, salt & pepper until well combined. This is quite a thick pesto. And the recipe made way more than I needed to dress the pasta... it would make a fantastic spread on toasted bread slices!

-Cook the pasta according to the directions, making sure to reserve a good cup or 2 of the cooking water before draining it. Right after draining the pasta, return it to the pot and add about 1 1/2 cups of the walnut pesto, toss with the pasta, adding pasta water as you need to get everything combined ( I used almost a cup and half...).

Past Pestos:
Jalapeno Peanut Pesto
Pistachio Arugula Pesto
Pepita Pesto

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